Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yasube ramen, Akasaka (やすべえ)

Dieting is hard. You tell yourself that you're going to be all Japanese - just a few drinks, some nibbles to go with, then home to bed - but in reality you end up acting more Japanese - a few drinks, some nibbles to go with, then a bowl of noodles with fatty pork soup to fill your stomach. At the least you can skip the 'free supersize' option. Right?
On the way to meet Big Bird at Dajare, I quickly diagnosed that it would be possible to get ramen after we finished. And on the way out he allowed as he would probably not say no if I were to suggest a noodle encounter. Among the two places facing each other on that stretch of Aoyama Dori, the 'Tokyo Ramen' was somehow unappealing, so we went into Yasubee, a small chain of tsukemen places. I'm usually let down by tsukemen, but I'm finding them more appealing in the hot weather, and it was damn hot that night - I usually like to describe being outside on humid Tokyo nights as 'swimming', but my colleague had earlier said something about being able to 'grab the air', and that's an equally good description. As is "standing still, sweating".
This interior is pretty normal for tsukemen these days - is it supposed to appeal to a customer segment, or is it just supposed to be cheap? The target sgement is certainly youngish men - you can get noodles in normal, bigger or huge sizes - tsukemen places tend to be kinda clinical about it these days, so that's 220g, 330g or 440g at Yasubee - all for the same price. 

Soup comes in normal or spicy. There's ramen on the menu, but it was 'sold out', which probably means "We're not making that ramen crap. Eat some real noodles."
The spicy soup, voici. The propaganda materials at each seat mentioned something about how the soup includes vegetables, meat and seafood. Usually that makes me think it's going to be very thick and heavy and rich and hopefully awesome. The non-spicy soup, which I ate, was strangely pretty thin, and quite oily, although the oil is presumably to help it stick to the noodles. There were a few layers to the flavor, with the dominant tone being sweetness. Ordinarily I like sweet things (though 'like' is too weak a word); this was unsettling.

This is the 220g noodles, and that's a very manageable size. These are more eggy, and a bit thinner, and a bit curlier than many of the modern tsukemen versions, most of which are quite udon-like. Definitely a good thing. 

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